Shaping the Sun
Solar Satellite Booklets & Large Sun Pictures
St Michael’s Primary School, Withyham
26 Feb 2019, Yr4+Yr5+Yr6 (30)
Blog by Helen Schell

Presented by:
Dr Helen Mason: University of Cambridge, Solar Physicist
Helen Schell: Artist & ESERO-UK Space Ambassador
School organisers:
Catherine O’Shea, Head Teacher
Jo Shobbrook, Science Lead
(click on photos to see more)

‘The children learnt how to co-operate within a team, listen and share ideas. The children were introduced to new scientific content in a well-pitched and engaging way. Our SEN children were all able to participate in the session and stayed engaged throughout the day.’ (Jo Shobbrook, teacher)
Workshop Format & Timetable
St Michael’s Primary School is a small rural school in a beautiful village, with a total of 80 children, providing an essential local education facility of quality. Because of the small pupil numbers it was deemed a good idea to bring 3 year groups together making the most of the workshop opportunity. A small school of this size is used to combining year groups and there was a sharing and productive workshop dynamic. The aim was to present an inclusive workshop spanning art and science which appealed to all the children whatever their age group, preference or abilities. The day long workshop was divided into 4 main sessions – Sun and Space Science, Solar Satellite Booklets and Q&A session, and in the afternoon larger Sun and space artworks created in teams by the children. The workshop was held in the hall, so there was plenty of space to spread out.

Sun & Space Science & Art – STEAM Session 1
Helen Mason presented a Sun science PowerPoint with a Q&A. Afterwards, Helen Schell presented her artworks in the context of the Sun and space science. Both presentations engaged the children equally with both science and art. This process initiated ideas for the next stage. There were hands-on science activities which included UV demos, spectrum glasses and an infrared camera. The infrared camera is always exciting and delights the children.

Solar Satellite Booklet – STEAM Session 2
The children were then asked to create small satellite books using fold-out and pop-up techniques, having been shown examples of experimental and inventive books first, which used cutting, folding, drawing and collage techniques. This was also an introduction to creative methods to be used in the afternoon when making their larger team artworks. They were given STFC ‘Sun’ posters for written and visual references.

Sun & Space Q&A – STEAM Session 3
Because the hall was required for lunch we moved to the library for a Q&A session about space science, which included the Sun, Moon, Black Holes, stars, galaxies and planets. There was also a discussion about the afternoon session, which enabled planning for larger works.

Larger Sun Pictures – Afternoon STEAM Session 4
The children were split into 6 teams of mixed ages and asked to choose team names related to the Sun or space. The aim was to create 6 big Sun pictures on paper (A1 size or bigger) which represented what they had learnt and discussed earlier in the day. The children used collage, drawing and writing to show what they had understood about the Sun. This built on the art techniques they had used in the morning which used collage, folding, cut-out and pop-up techniques, but they also had pastels and paints for greater creative expression. They were delighted at the opportunity of making some large artworks, being encouraged to spread wide and far, ‘breaking out of the square’. This activity created a means of understanding, interpreting, communicating and remembering scientific data. It’s also a successful method for encouraging literacy, maths, verbal, written and artistic communication.

End of the workshop
Each group did a ‘Show and Tell’ so the children could express what they had learnt and how they felt about the day. They were asked to write feedback to let us know how the workshop went. Most children gave the highest marks for both science and art.

What did the children say?
‘The best part of the activities was being able to create your own booklets out of your own imagination’. ‘The Sun and space make me think of wonder and it seems like it’s a different dimension. It’s magical’. ‘I have learnt that the Sun has six layers like an onion’. ‘Space and the Sun makes me feel excited’. ‘I liked working with my teammates’. ‘Today was epic’.